Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Washington, D.C., and in cities around the country on Saturday, May 14 to rally for abortion rights in the wake of the leaked U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
And given the huge number of protesters who converged in the District, as well as in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and in dozens of other cities – as far away as Hawaii – it appears that advocates of abortion rights have no intention of going away quickly and certainly not quietly.
Planned Parenthood and The Women’s March, along with other groups, co-led the rally at the Washington Monument and the procession east to the Supreme Court building.
The groups on the National Mall and other locations included men, women and children who chanted, sang and voiced their displeasure over the high court’s draft opinion as well as numerous abortion bans and restrictions that have cropped up in many Republican-led states.
“Far-right Republicans have hijacked Washington, D.C., and we need to elect leaders at the state level who will protect and defend abortion access,” Democratic Attorneys General Association co-chairs Aaron Ford of Nevada and Kathy Jennings of Delaware wrote in a statement.
“As Democratic attorneys general, we will never back down when it comes to protecting abortion access. We are on the front lines of this fight and we are already doing the work to defend reproductive health care.”
“The importance of down-ballot races this year cannot be overstated.
This fight lies squarely in the states and we need to show up at the ballot box and vote for Democratic attorneys general who will never let up on the work to safeguard people’s right to abortion.”
Carrying signs that read, “Bans off our bodies,” “Abortion is health care” and “Women are not livestock,” demonstrators vowed that protests would continue until the court changes course.
Protesters even rallied outside of the homes of several Supreme Court justices who have previously voiced their concerns with or objections to Roe v. Wade – leading many legal experts to believe that they will inevitably vote to dismantle the legislation. And while the protests at various homes totaled less than one hour each in length and while they all remained peaceful, Republicans voiced their objections because of legislation which forbids protests to be held at the homes of justices.
Protesters, in response, said they have a right to express their views because of the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech.
“I think women should have the right to choose what to do with their bodies and their lives. And I don’t think banning abortion will stop abortion. It just makes it unsafe and
Loehr, 34, of Washington, wore a black T-shirt with an image of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s “dissent” collar on it and a necklace that spelled out “vote.”
Kelley Robinson, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, counted among the speakers at the National Mall.
She declared it’s clear that abortion rights are under attack.
“We are here because these folks are trying to kick us out of the Constitution and take away a constitutional right we’ve had for the last 50 years,” Robinson said. “We are here to show them that we are the majority.”
After the U.S. Senate voted against legislation that would have codified Roe v. Wade on the federal level on May 11, some Americans, like Renee Stikes, a D.C. resident who lives in Ward 3, said they decided to participate in last weekend’s rally and march here in the District.
“The Supreme Court is wrong,” Stikes said. “I choose what to do with my body, not them. I am so happy to see so many people out here, especially the men and the children.”
Angela Frazer, a District native who resides in Prince George’s County, said she knew she could not miss the opportunity to join the demonstration.
“I am here to support a woman’s right to choose,” Frazer said. “We need to have a serious look at our leaders. I do not want Kevin McCarthy to become speaker of the House next year and I don’t want Mitch McConnell to become the majority leader. They don’t support what most women want. I am especially disappointed in Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins who I thought were pro-choice.”
Both Stikes and Frazer said voting and political engagement remain essential to protecting a woman’s right to an abortion.
“People need to show up and vote,” Frazer said. “They need to vote in the primary and in the general election. We also have to remember that this
is not just about abortion. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, other issues such as the right to privacy are at stake.”
Stikes said demonstrations are fine but other actions must be taken as well.
“We shouldn’t just be marching – we have to vote,” she said.
WI Senior Editor D. Kevin McNeir and WI Staff Writer James Wright contributed to this report.